Clare College Cambridge



Number of students per year: 9-11
Typical offer: A*AA or 7,7,6 (42+ overall) in the IB or the equivalent in other educational systems. For Scottish Highers and Advanced Highers - Offers usually require AAA at Advanced Higher Grade; bands may be specified.
Essential subjects: a-level or equivalent English Literature.
Written assessment: All applicants to study English at Cambridge are required to take the English Literature Admissions Test (ELAT).


English at Clare extends beyond formal teaching. Fellows have been known to arrange subsidised visits to theatres in Cambridge and London; to turn seminars into communal play-readings; to invite directors to discuss their productions; to arrange for film evenings introduced by specialists in film studies. On two memorable evenings one summer, Dr Stillman and the English third-year students took over the college gardens to produce a site-specific, multi-media performance for voices of Tennyson’s poem Maud (complete with original music and the arrival of Death on a punt). The Clare Actors company and the college Literary and Writing Society flourish in line with the enterprise of the students who run them. The tradition has sprung up of an annual English dinner. But perhaps most valuable are the wholly informal ways in which students interact with each other – sharing literary enthusiasms, discussing ideas, reading each other’s writing, and appreciatively responding to the special qualities, intellectual and creative, which each English student brings, in her or his own way, to the table.

At Clare we do not teach according to any preferred line of approach, but see our role as being to help the students to discover their own interests and to clarify their own thinking. Students are supervised in pairs or singly and this means that someone who has or who comes to develop particular interests – in theatre, for example, or music, or gender studies, or historical context, or philosophy, etc – will be able to slant their course of work accordingly. There is always room for negotiation about which authors or topics you will be studying. In a more general sense, too, the supervisor is responsive to the individual, and addresses the person as much as the subject. English is a humane discipline, and as a student's skill and knowledge grow, supervisions will evolve away from the teacher-pupil situation towards being a sharing and comparing of experiences between equals, who have in common a strong love of literature. That is an ideal, but one which is frequently approached, and sometimes achieved.

Potential applicants who would like more information about anything touched on in these notes, are very welcome to contact any of the Directors of Studies in English by e-mail.


Fellows in English at Clare

Clare is a college that gives a high priority to undergraduate teaching, and there are five Fellows actively teaching in English:

Dr Ian Burrows (Part I)

Dr Tamara Follini Director of Studies (Part II)

Prof Fred Parker Director of Studies (Part IB)

Dr Anne Stillman

Prof Jacqueline Tasioulas  Director of Studies 

You can learn more about us by following those links. We all teach widely and enthusiastically beyond our own specialisms, as well as bringing in supervisors from outside Clare where appropriate, especially for final-year students, who can expect to work with University specialists in their chosen subjects.

Link to University Subject Page


See Student Profiles: Rachel Dewhirst